The Role of Teachers

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Peer support can mean many different thing to different people and there are many different ways that this can be facilitated both formally and informally. First, teachers play a valuable role in acting as a good role model

Table 2 Residential Trips

What young people say

I have felt isolated at times as I know nobody else with the same condition. When I met other people with arthritis, whilst on a recent trip to the Peak District, I found the whole experience uplifting. I had the opportunity to meet other people my age and talk freely about arthritis. It brought home to me that many other young people suffer the same pain and frustration. I made friends and found we have a lot in common. Following the trip, I plan to stay at one girl's house in the near future. I would definitely recommend other people with arthritis or similar conditions to take the opportunity of going on a trip of this nature. I would say everybody was able to benefit from the experience.

(Caroline, aged 14)

At first I was extremely nervous about going on the trip and the pre-meeting made me a bit more nervous. When we were on the train I made friends instantly. Kaz, Karan and I talked the whole journey. We talked about what medications we took and how we were affected. For the first time I heard people my age talking about something familiar, arthritis. The trip helped me a lot, talking how they overcame their pain, just being in their company was a comfort. I had never met any young people with arthritis and it was a great help to spend 4 days with people who had similar problems. It opened my eyes and showed me that I am quite lucky compared to some. Now I am happy with my arthritis and I have finally learned to cope with it. I am very grateful to the hospital and the team who gave me a great 4 days.

(Georgina, aged 14)

What one parent says

Writing as a parent, I thought the idea of a group of teenagers all suffering from arthritis going off to the Peak District to take part in outdoor activities sounded brilliant and so it proved to be with my daughter Georgina.

After a wretched year for her when she had been very low at times and almost reclusive, she arrived home from the "Get a Grip Trip" a different person! She had found the whole experience hugely beneficial and it had made her realise that she was not alone in how she felt. She had the opportunity to meet new friends, some of whom had the illness much more severely than herself, to discuss with them how she felt and what had happened to her. I think it was a huge relief and having had loads of fun and with a huge smile on her face. The trip has helped her to regain her confidence, which had been gradually ebbing away over the past few years. Moreover, she got on particularly well with Kaz, whose family were kind enough to have her to stay with them for a few days at the end of August. We are hoping that Kaz can come and stay with us soon; in any event we hope to see her in Birmingham at the beginning of January. We were very lucky to be offered this chance and I would encourage any teenager to go on the trip if the opportunity comes their way.

(Georgina's mother)

for young people. Those who are open, supportive, and seek the views of young people and encourage them to express their views sends a clear message to students that they are valued and it is acceptable to disclose any problems. Secondly, flexibility and creativity which fosters inclusivity of all young people (including those with special needs) in all activities (including physical exercise classes) sends a clear message to students to be inclusive and supportive. Finally teachers can also play a role in encouraging students to work cooperatively by considering environmental factors, for example, creative seating arrangements in a class setting as well as the use of partners in classes such as art, drama, and music.

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